ADEN: An “unprecedented” US and Yemeni aerial campaign in Yemen killed at least 68 Al Qaeda militants in a bid to head off attacks by the network’s local affiliate, officials said on Monday.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has been linked to a number of failed terror plots against the United States, and its leader has appeared in a rare video in which he vowed to attack Western “crusaders ... everywhere in the world”.

A top Yemeni official said the “unprecedented” Saturday-Sunday air war came after “information that Al Qaeda was plotting attacks on vital installations, military and security, as well as foreign interests in Yemen.

“The interior ministry said intensive air strikes on Al Qaeda bases in the rugged mountains of Abyan province on Sunday killed 55 militants, including three local chiefs.

Tribal sources had put the death toll from the raids near the town of Al-Mahfad at more than 30.

The interior ministry said the raids lasted several hours, adding that “terrorists of Arab and foreign nationalities are among the dead and are in the process of being identified.

“The top official said Yemeni MiG-29 jet fighters took part in the raids, which tribal sources said involved unmanned drones. The United States is the only country operating drones over Yemen, but US officials rarely acknowledge the covert drone programme.

A drone strike on Sunday night killed three militants, one of whom may have been a senior commander, when a missile blasted their off-road vehicle in the southern Shabwa province, an official said.

Witnesses confirmed the vehicle was completely destroyed and said they saw the charred remains of three individuals.

Shortly after the attack, commandos in an unmarked helicopter arrived to retrieve the bodies, they said.

“The operation seems to indicate that one of the dead could be an important leader of Al Qaeda,” one witness said. And on Saturday, a drone strike in the central province of Baida killed 10 Al Qaeda suspects and three civilians, official Saba news agency reported. It did not say who carried out the attack.

Meanwhile, two gunmen on a motorbike shot dead an intelligence officer Monday and wounded another in Sanaa, in an attack that “bore the hallmarks of Al Qaeda,” an official said.

President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, meanwhile, awarded Yemen’s counter-terrorism unit the medal of “bravery” for its “successful raid last night,” the government said in a statement.

“The operation delivers a strong message to the criminal and terror operatives that the armed forces and security personnel are ready to foil and thwart terrorist acts at any time and place,” said Hadi.

‘War against crusaders’: The weekend attacks came after AQAP chief Nasser al-Wuhayshi pledged to fight Western “crusaders” everywhere, apparently referring to the United States and other countries which have intervened in Muslim countries.—AFP

Opinion

Last call
Updated 23 Sep 2021

Last call

The exchange rate alone can no longer absorb the full impact of the deterioration in the current account.
Appeasing terrorists
Updated 22 Sep 2021

Appeasing terrorists

The policy of appeasement has not worked in the past and it certainly will not work now.

Editorial

Dialogue, at last
Updated 23 Sep 2021

Dialogue, at last

The govt has attempted to make the ECP controversial at a time when its input is critical for the poll reforms
AUKUS controversy
Updated 23 Sep 2021

AUKUS controversy

Instead of flexing its military muscle, the Western bloc needs to engage China at the negotiating table.
Provocative act
Updated 23 Sep 2021

Provocative act

Afghan Taliban flags have been found hoisted at Jamia Hafsa seminary three times since Aug 21.
22 Sep 2021

Interest rate hike

THE State Bank’s decision to raise its key interest rate by 25bps to 7.25pc underpins its acceptance of emerging...
PCB chief’s challenge
Updated 22 Sep 2021

PCB chief’s challenge

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has propelled fears of regional insecurity.
22 Sep 2021

No need for secrecy

THE government should not make a mountain out of the Toshakhana molehill. That would only encourage speculation of...